De-Clutter the Internet!

offers a suggestion that I heartily endorse. He quotes James Joyner on the problem of feeling obliged to comment:

I frequently see a headline or story somewhere, decide it’s not worth my time, and then get drawn into it hours later when I see conversations about it on Twitter or my blog feed reader. Sometimes, it’s just a function of “well, this must be important so let me say something.”

and counters with the obvious solution:

I have a solution: don’t do it! If it’s not something that you personally care much about, just skip it. I, for one, would actually enjoy the blogosphere more if fewer people repeated the same things over and over, and in particular I’d pay more attention to OTB if it had fewer posts. I can’t read 20 or 30 posts a day on a single blog, which means that I probably miss lots of good stuff that gets lost in the clutter.

Of course, like all simple and obvious advice (“Want to lose weight? Eat less and exercise.”) this is easier said than done. When everyone is talking about something, it’s really hard not to want to say something about it, even if it’s only “Shut up ShutupSHUTUP!!!” I’m in one of my intermittent attempts to be a Better Person, though, and I’m doing my best to avoid this trap (“I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”). I don’t always succeed, but I have managed to cut down my outrage-of-the-moment blogging quite a bit, which I think is probably a Good Thing on balance, even if it often leaves me feeling disconnected from the blogosphere.

Like Kevin, I would love to see more people take up this cause. I’d love it if there were fewer functionally identical blog posts about whatever topic is currently stoking ire, and Twitter is even worse (just because you can re-tweet 50 angry comments a day from people who share your views doesn’t mean you have to re-tweet 50 angry comments a day).

I don’t expect this to go anywhere, but like Kevin, I’ll throw it out there and hope for the best. The Internet, and the world in general, would be a better place if people only talked when they had something to say, and not because talking seemed like the thing to do.

Comments

  1. #1 darwinsdog
    January 23, 2011

    Seed requires how may blog posts per week in exchange for their pittance? This post strikes me one you came up with to meet your quota when you couldn’t think of any physics to write about. Just clutter.

  2. #2 Ed S.
    January 23, 2011

    Way too many ‘ditto’ comments clogging the tubes while important news ignored…OMG Obama colors his hair!

  3. #3 Michael Nielsen
    January 23, 2011

    I periodically prune the feeds I read, trying to remove people who duplicate the stories-of-the-moment. It’s definitely not perfect, but does help a lot. I’m not as careful about this on Twitter, and maybe I should be.

  4. #4 gc
    January 23, 2011

    Hello, I didn’t know what to say…but wanted to comment, so…

  5. #5 John Novak
    January 23, 2011

    If it aids in your resolve, I invariably scroll past the outrage stories in my feed. When I realize I have something in my feed that’s mainly outrage screeds, I get rid of it.

  6. #6 Cherish
    January 23, 2011

    It’s ironic, because when I do occasionally get involved in the ‘argument of the moment’, I find that it does a lot to improve blog traffic. I’m sure I’m not the only one who notices this, and I suspect that there are even people who involve themselves in these arguments for precisely that reason.

    On the other hand, that kind of traffic is very often negative. I’ve been making it a policy to avoid those types of things because they suck away my joy for blogging. Unfortunately, it took a while to realize it.

  7. #7 miller
    January 23, 2011

    One way to insure uniqueness of content is to say something self-referential. Like this comment I just wrote, nobody has ever talked about it before, and likely no one will ever talk about it again.

    Somehow, this fails to reduce clutter.

  8. #8 Alan
    January 25, 2011

    Chad’s blog echos Kevin’s blog which echos James’ blog about clutter. Oh the irony, it burns!